Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Healthy Banana-Berry Muffins

Healthy Banana-Berry Muffins

Makes 8 muffins.

These are healthy. They don't taste like a muffin you'd get at your local bakery. Or a muffin you'd get at Costco, Starbucks, or Caribou. They taste... healthy. But they also don't have the calories, fat, and sugar content of the retailers named above. I almost didn't blog about these, because, let's be honest, most people want a muffin that tastes like at least slightly cake. But if you have little ones at home, this could be a great recipe for you. To a child's taste-buds, I think they would plenty sweet enough, and Mom will feel about offering a healthy snack!

1 very ripe banana, mashed
1 T. honey
1 egg
1 single-serve container of mixed berry yogurt (not mini, child-size)
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
Pinch of salt
1 t. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until just combined. There should be no dry spots, but don't be concerned if the batter is lumpy.

Prepare muffin tin by filling 8 spots with muffin liners. Evenly distribute batter between 8 liners. Bake for about 18 minutes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey & Green Apple Sandwich

Turkey & Green Apple Sandwich

Serves 1.

Still got leftover turkey? Here's a slight variation on your typical turkey sammich.
Source: Martha Stewart Living magazine

2 slices of bread - your choice, white or wheat
leftover Thanksgiving turkey
sliced green apple
sliced cheese, if desired

Slather bread with mayo. Top with fresh lettuce, sliced turkey, and green apple. Add a slice of cheese if you prefer.
Serve with potato chips.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies

It's the day after Thanksgiving! Are you ready to start baking for Christmas?? Last Christmas, I featured "The 12 Days of Christmas Cookies," and here they are. Let's be honest, baking in your PJs all day sounds much better than fighting the crowds of Black Friday. :)

1. Holiday Spritz - a holiday classic.

2. Tri-Chocolate Chip Cookies - a favorite made even better with additional chocolate

3. Raisin Cashew Drops - bite-sized bliss

4. Ginger Molasses Cookies - soft and chewy with a touch of holiday spice

5. Almond Tassies - these were my father-in-law's favorite!

6. Christmas Cut-Outs - a little extra work, but usually the first to leave the cookie tray

7. Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons - a sweet bite for the coconut lovers

8. Grammy's Chocolate Cookies - for those who really like chocolate

9. Cookies 'n Cream Fudge - America's favorite twistable cookie, swirled into white fudge

10. Peanut Blossom Cookies - these make my mouth water

11. Andes Mint Brownies - traditional brownies with a crackly mint topping

12. Thumbprints - a cute cookie with a cute name

Other cookies that deserve honorable mention:

Chinese Almond Cookies


Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookie Cups

Oreo Truffles

Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I hope you have a wonderful day doing all the things you should be doing -- spending time with family, eating a lot of great food, and reflecting on all you have to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lemon-Herb Roast Turkey with Pan Gravy

Lemon-Herb Roast Turkey with Pan Gravy

Serves 6.

This was so good -- and super easy!
Adapted From: CampbellsKitchen.com

1 lemon
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 T. chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1 t. dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1 T. chopped fresh thyme leaves of 1 t. dried thyme leaves, crushed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 turkey breast (5-7 lbs.)
1/4 c. dry white wine
1/4 c. water

Heat over to 375 degrees.
Grate 1-1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and squeeze 1 tablespoon juice from the lemon.

Stir the lemon zest, lemon juice, soup, rosemary, thyme, and garlic in a medium bowl. Reserve 1 cup soup mixture for the gravy. Place the turkey into a shallow roasting pan.

Roast the turkey for 20 minutes. Brush the turkey with 1/4 cup soup mixture.

Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the turkey is cooked through. Remove the turkey to a serving platter and keep warm.

Spoon off any fat from the pan juices. Stir the wine into the roasting pan and heat over medium-high heat to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the reserved soup mixture and water and cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling. Serve the gravy with the turkey.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Serves 8-10.

So creamy and delicious. I love me some mashed potatoes.
Source: Keeping Good Company cookbook

5 lbs. baking potatoes
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. sour cream
2 t. onion salt
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4-1/2 c. butter
chives for garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel potatoes and cut into 1" cubes. Cook in boiling water to cover for about 15-20 minutes or until tender; drain and place in a large mixing bowl.

Add remaining ingredients; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy (do not overbeat). Spoon into a lightly greased 3 qt. baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes. Garnish with chives right before serving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reuben Dip in a Bread Bowl

Reuben Dip in a Bread Bowl

Yum, yum, yum! A definite crowd pleaser! Serve this at your next get-together and don't worry about whether or not people will like it.
Adapted from: Ace Cooks, Bakers, and Miracle Makers cookbook

1 round bread loaf, either rye or basic Italian
1 c. mayonnaise
8 oz. cream cheese
6 oz. sour cream
2 pkgs. Buddig corn beef, sliced thin
6 oz. grated Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut out top of bread and hollow out to create a bowl. Reserve removed bread for serving.

Mix all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer to bread bowl and wrap bread in foil, leaving dip exposed.

Bake for 1 hour; serve with bread pieces.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Carrot Cheesecake Muffins

Carrot Cheesecake Muffins

Makes 12-14.

A semi-sweet muffin with a surprise in the middle!
Slightly adapted from: AllRecipes.com

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 T. sugar

1/3 c. butter or margarine, softened
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
2 T. orange juice
1-1/4 c. finely grated carrots
1/2 c. raisins
1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs, milk, and orange juice. Fold in carrots and raisins.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon; stir into creamed butter mixture just until moistened.

Fill muffins cups (that have been lined with paper/foil liners) with 2 tablespoons batter. Top each with 2 teaspoons of cream cheese filling. Top with remaining batter.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack. Store in refrigerator.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ultimate Mac 'n Cheese

Ultimate Mac 'n Cheese

Serves 6.

Very creamy and rich. Comes out of the oven bubbling and hot. Will satisfy your need for comfort food.

5 c. uncooked pasta, such as macaroni or penne (16 oz.)
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
4-1/2 c. milk
1 c. shredded provolone cheese (4 oz.)
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz.)
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese (2 oz.)
1/2 c. shredded fontina cheese (2 oz.)
1 T. butter
1 c. bread crumbs (preferably homemade, but canned okay)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.

Meanwhile, in a 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, melt 1/2 cup butter over low heat. Add garlic, cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently.

With a wire whisk, stir in flour and salt until smooth. Increase heat to medium; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Gradually stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Stir pasta into cheese sauce. Transfer to baking dish.

In a 6-inch skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Stir in bread crumbs. Cook and stir constantly until bread crumbs are golden brown. Sprinkle over pasta mixture.

Bake uncovered, 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Reliable Wife

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

This book had me hooked in the beginning, but then as the story went on, it got to be a little too predictable. I found myself skimming the last 20 pages or so.

Publishers Weekly review from Amazon.com:

Set in 1907 Wisconsin, Goolrick's fiction debut (after a memoir, The End of the World as We Know It) gets off to a slow, stylized start, but eventually generates some real suspense. When Catherine Land, who's survived a traumatic early life by using her wits and sexuality as weapons, happens on a newspaper ad from a well-to-do businessman in need of a "reliable wife," she invents a plan to benefit from his riches and his need. Her new husband, Ralph Truitt, discovers she's deceived him the moment she arrives in his remote hometown. Driven by a complex mix of emotions and simple animal attraction, he marries her anyway. After the wedding, Catherine helps Ralph search for his estranged son and, despite growing misgivings, begins to poison him with small doses of arsenic. Ralph sickens but doesn't die, and their story unfolds in ways neither they nor the reader expect. This darkly nuanced psychological tale builds to a strong and satisfying close. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Granola: Dark & Stormy

Granola: Dark & Stormy

Makes 9 cups.

Chunky, crunchy, and chalk full of healthy fats!
Inspired By: Martha Stewart Living magazine

1/3 c. corn syrup
1/3 c. molasses
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
3 c. old-fashioned oats
2 c. almonds
1/3 c. dried cranberries
1/3 c. chopped dried dates

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Whisk together corn syrup, molasses, sugar, oil, salt, and the cinnamon in a large bowl. Add oats and almonds; toss well to coat evenly.

Spread granola mixture on nonstick rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 20 minutes, until golden brown, about 50 minutes. Let cool completely on sheet.

Add cranberries and dates; toss to combine. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week for peak freshness.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

The picture above shows the recipe cut in half. A full recipe would fit perfectly in an 8x8 baking dish, or something comparable in size.
This is very similar in consistency to a baked artichoke dip. It's delicious and great for entertaining since it can easier be made ahead of time.

1 (7 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
3/4 lb. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. mayonnaise
1 T. minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. prepared Djion mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; transfer to baking dish.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve warm with tortilla chips, pita wedges, or crackers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Incredible Cavatini for a Crowd

Incredible Cavatini for a Crowd

Serves 12-15.

I think it's the plethora of ingredients in this pasta bake that make it ever so tasty. A great meal to serve to a large group of people... and since you can prepare it ahead of time, it makes casual entertaining that much easier!
Source: Keeping Good Company cookbook

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. medium or milk ground pork sausage
1 onion, chopped
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 (3-1/2 oz.) pkg. pepperoni slices, chopped
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes with roasted garlic
1 (28 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce
1 (16 oz.) jar mild salsa
1 (16 oz.) pkg. shell macaroni, cooked and drained
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
4 c. (16 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook ground beef, sausage, and onion together until meat is done. Add sliced mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are limp. Drain well; set aside.

Combine the next five ingredients with meat. Spoon half of this pasta mixture into 2 lightly greased 11 x 7 x 1-1/2" baking dishes; sprinkle with half of the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Top with remaining pasta mixture. Bake for 30 minutes; top with remaining cheeses; bake 5 minutes longer.

A Note From The Little Lady: You can also assemble completely (with last layer of cheese on top) and bake covered for the first 30 minutes, removing foil for final 5. This works especially well if you are planning on preparing ahead of time and refrigerating or freezing.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Morning Glory Muffins

Morning Glory Muffins

Makes 24.

A tasty, healthy start to your day. These muffins are full of all sorts of goodness.

1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1-1/4 c. white sugar
1 T. ground cinnamon
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 c. grated carrots
1 apple - peeled, cored and diced
1 c. raisins
1 egg
2 egg white
1/2 c. apple butter
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 T. vanilla extract
2 T. chopped walnuts, optional
2 T. toasted wheat germ

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, egg whites, sugar, apple butter, oil, and vanilla.

In another bowl, sift together flours, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir in egg/sugar mixture, as well as carrots, apples, and raisins. Stir until just moistened.

Spoon the prepared batter into muffin cups.

In a small bowl, combine walnuts and wheat germ, if using. Sprinkle over muffin tops.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

I started this book, then put it down for reasons I can't even remember. A few months later, I picked it back up, starting fresh from the beginning. I was hooked right away (and baffled how I managed to abandon it the first time around!). There were a few slow spots, but, overall, a great (and educating!) read.

Publishers Weekly review from Amazon.com:

Ford's strained debut concerns Henry Lee, a Chinese-American in Seattle who, in 1986, has just lost his wife to cancer. After Henry hears that the belongings of Japanese immigrants interned during WWII have been found in the basement of the Panama Hotel, the narrative shuttles between 1986 and the 1940s in a predictable story that chronicles the losses of old age and the bewilderment of youth. Henry recalls the difficulties of life in America during WWII, when he and his Japanese-American school friend, Keiko, wandered through wartime Seattle. Keiko and her family are later interned in a camp, and Henry, horrified by America's anti-Japanese hysteria, is further conflicted because of his Chinese father's anti-Japanese sentiment. Henry's adult life in 1986 is rather mechanically rendered, and Ford clumsily contrasts Henry's difficulty in communicating with his college-age son, Marty, with Henry's own alienation from his father, who was determined to Americanize him. The wartime persecution of Japanese immigrants is presented well, but the flatness of the narrative and Ford's reliance on numerous cultural cliches make for a disappointing read. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How I Chop an Onion

How I Chop an Onion

Holiday cooking is right around the corner!

1. Peel the onion and cut off the ends. Cut in half:

2. Slice the onion, one half at a time:

3. Line up the slices:

4. Chop the slices into small pieces:

5. Run your knife through a few extra times to make sure you haven't missed any big chunks. And then use as needed!

A Note From The Little Lady: I love keeping chopped onion in the fridge for as-needed purposes. I throw it in with egg omelets, on salads, or with anything that needs some extra flavor. Plus, it's extremely handy for cooking purposes when I'm trying to throw together dinner quickly and need to saute some onions.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Beef and Veggies

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Beef and Veggies

Serves 4.

I was surprised at the reviews this got from The Mr. I was hesitant to serve spaghetti squash to him, which is why I found a recipe that also included meat. :) I used ground beef, but you could make this meal even healthier by substituting ground turkey or chicken. And even healthier still by decreasing the amount of meat and increasing the amount of spaghetti squash and veggies.

1 large spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. diced green bell pepper
1/2 c. diced red bell pepper
1/4 c. diced red onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried basil
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
2-1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place squash on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, cool, and shred pulp with a fork.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease a casserole dish.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef until evenly brown; drain if needed. Mix in green bell pepper, red bell pepper, red onion, and garlic. Continue to cook and stir until vegetables are tender.

Mix the shredded squash and tomatoes into the skillet; season with oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir until heated through. Remove skillet from heat and mix in 2 cups of cheddar cheese until melted. Transfer to prepared casserole dish.

Bake 25 minutes and then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer, until cheese is melted.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes, For 4

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes, For 4

Serves 4.

This is perfect when you want cheesecake for 4 but don't want all the leftovers that a standard cake would give you. Plus, they're cute and taste great too.
Adapted From: Small-Batch Baking cookbook

1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 t. sugar
2 T. butter, melted

raspberry reduction:
1 c. fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 c. sugar

1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 T. whipping (heavy) cream
raspberry reduction

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line the insides of (4) 4-oz. ramekins with foil and then grease with butter, shortening, or nonstick spray. Try to make foil as smooth as possible, but know that there will be some unavoidable creases. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet.

Make the raspberry reduction:
Add raspberries to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar. Bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Boil, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes. Remove from the pan and let the raspberry reduction cool completely.

Make the crust:
Place the crushed graham crackers and the sugar in a small bowl, and stir to mix. Add the melted butter and toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Spoon the crumb mixture into the prepared ramekins, dividingit evenly among them. Gently press down the crumb mixture with your fingertips. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer ramekins to a wire rack. Let the crusts cool while you prepare the filling. Keep the oven on.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer on medium speed just until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 45 seconds. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and heavy cream, reduce the mixture speed to low, and beat just until they are blended into the cream cheese mixture, 15-20 seconds. Then stir in the cooled raspberry reduction to create a swirled look. Spoon the batter into the crusts, dividing it evenly among them. Return the cheesecakes to the oven on the baking sheet and bake the cheesecakes until they are just set, 24-25 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the cheesecakes to a wire rack. Let them cool completely in the ramekins. Then cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, carefully remove cheesecakes from ramekins by pulling out edges of foil. Unwrap, plate, and enjoy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Apple Pie Coffee Cake

Apple Pie Coffee Cake

Serves 16.

Happy birthday to my father-in-law -- one of my most loyal readers. :)
Here's some more baked goodness to celebrate the season. Whip this up before company comes, and set it out in the morning for an easy complement to coffee and/or addition to a breakfast spread.
Slightly adapted from: AllRecipes.com

1 spice cake mix
1 (21 oz.) can apple pie filling
3 eggs
3/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. water
2 T. canola oil
1 t. vanilla extract
2 T. brown sugar
1-1/2 t. ground cinnamon

2/3 c. powdered sugar
2-3 T. milk or cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop apple pie filling into smaller pieces. This isn't necessary but makes the cake easier to eat than leaving the slices whole.

Set aside 1 tablespoon cake mix and 1-1/2 cups apple pie filling.

In a mixing bowl, combine remaining cake mix, eggs, sour cream, water, oil, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in remaining apple pie filling. Pour half of batter into a 10" bundt pan that has been coated with non-stick spray or butter/shortening.

In a small bowl, create streusel by mixing together reserved 1 tablespoon cake mix, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over batter in bundt pan. Spoon reserved apples over batter to within 3/4" from edges. Top with remaining batter.

Bake for 48-53 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Make glaze by combining powdered sugar and milk. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over cake (I put the wire rack - that it's been cooling on - over the sink to make for an easy clean-up since glaze will run down cake sides and through wire rack). Repeat this process, if you want, until cake is topped with your desired amount of glaze.